February 5, 2006

Five Years of Sticking it to the Man

Five Years of Sticking it to the Man. Click on the image above to watch a self-tribute to my years in the blogosphere. (Quicktime 4.5 MB). And don’t forget to take a look at the inspiration for this little parody.

This week marks the fifth anniversary of Life Outtacontext. On February 9, 2001 I wrote my first piece, I am COTR, a reflection on the power of being a Contract Officer’s Technical Representative. Translated from government-speak, I was learning how to advise lawyers on the technical aspects of writing contracts for new media projects. Not the most auspicious of subjects for my blog debut.

In fact, my second post, Underground Magic, more accurately conveys one of the directions I have developed over the last five years. Writing about my family, both past and present, provides the genesis for many of my pieces.

I started blogging before software like Moveable Type, Typepad, and Blogger made blogging ubiquitous. Early on each piece was done “by hand.” Back then I included a horoscope with each entry. These were painstakingly produced in Photoshop from daily readings in the paper. I would cut and paste each word to make a sentence that was both appropriate to the post and a little off-the-wall, in an ethereal sort of way. This was fun for a while. But soon I realized I was spending more time on these graphics than my writing. With local and world events demanding my full attention, I abandoned these illustrations by the beginning of 2003.

My first design of Life Outtacontext made way for my present one in August 2004, when a found post card from the 1940s threw me into a frenzied two week redesign blitz. Designers will know what I’m talking about when I say the muse hit me right between the eyes. “Suddenly” I woke up with a new design, one I am still pretty proud of.

My loyal readers (the 10s of you) might have noticed a new graphic in the lower right of each page: a link to the 9rules Network. Recently, I was asked to join this group of bloggers —a network of writers and designers who, despite their diversity, share their good writing and design. I am honored to be a part. As the blogosphere has grown and the number of blogs increased exponentially, it has become important to look for new ways to connect with others (both those of like mind and those who might be interested in what I have to say). In a way, this network is like being in “old world” syndication. You write and the network passes your work around.

Life Outtacontext isn’t a traditional blog. I don’t post short, daily quips and links. In fact, if I write four posts a month I consider myself prolific. From the beginning I have enjoyed creating a place where I could write about things that are important to me, whether it be political or something humorous. At heart I am a storyteller and telling a good story is what’s central to LO. Thanks for letting me share that with you. Family and work responsibilities require most of my daily attention (after all I’m still a COTR!). But, here, I am “the man” —this is a small place where I make all the decisions. I have a few friends whose advice I often seek. But there are no committees here. And that is a powerful place to create.

To commemorate my five years in the blogosphere I have created a mashup or remix of my favorite TV commercial du jour. My wife doesn’t understand why I think the original Sprint commercial (which is the inspiration for this remix) is so funny. But my eldest daughter and I have memorized both parts and put on impromptu theater, usually at the dinner table. In this online version I play both characters. While I aspire to write, I don’t think voiceover work is in my future.

Like the main protagonist of this video tableau I often feel I play both roles: I am the man, but I don’t mind sticking it to myself. Well, maybe.

This just in: The Smithsonian American Art Museum’s blog Eye Level (which I designed and for which I serve as managing editor) has been nominated in the Blog category at the 9th annual SXSW Interactive Festival Web Awards in Austin. Congratulations Team Eye Level!

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Congrats, Jeff on both counts.

And five years in the blogosphere is like a lifetime in human years, isn’t it?

Posted by: Roxanne on February 5, 2006 2:31 PM

I was waiting for someone to make fun of that comercial.

Posted by: Michael on February 5, 2006 9:15 PM

Comments are now closed for this post. But there are a few other entries which might provoke an opinion or two.

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